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de Havilland, Terry

Terry de Havilland has been involved in the design and manufacture of footwear since the 1950’s. He was introduced to the craft by his parents who were themselves independent shoemakers from the East End of London.

Terry’s earliest memories are of his father creating shoes in the shed at the bottom of the garden. These were platform shoes for the black market in 1940’s war-torn Britain. A clandestine marriage and a period in Rome saw Terry caught up in the crazy social whirl revolving around Fellini’s filming of ‘La Dolce Vita’. Immersed in the glamour surrounding the likes of Ava Gardner and Anita Ekberg was to prove a huge inspiration for Terry in the years to come.

In 1960 his father called him back to London to help out with the family business. It quickly became apparent that Terry had an extraordinary talent for design and pattern cutting. With young Terry’s impetus and the advent of winkle pickers, the family business thrived.

One of Terry’s first clients was Paul Smith who owned a boutique called the Bird Cage in Nottingham, but his big break really came when Annie Traherne, the fashion editor of Queen magazine, discovered and championed his cause.

Having made up some patchwork snakeskin three tiered wedge sandals, Terry showed them to his friend Johnny Moke who bought them for his boutique in Kensington Market ‘Rowley & Oram’. The shoes proved to be a huge hit and made regular customers of the rock-n-roll set; Bianca Jagger, Anita Pallenberg, Britt Ekland, Cher, Bette Midler, LuLu, and most memorably Angie and David Bowie.

In 1970, Terry de Havilland took over the family business upon the sad and untimely death of his father brought about by an accident in the factory. Terry’s father died cradled in his arms.

His father’s death pulled Terry up by the bootstraps. He was now the head of the family, and the business He worked incessantly and it paid off. The Terry de Havilland styles gained recognition and the customer base grew and grew.

In 1972 de Havilland opened ‘COBBLERS TO THE WORLD’ on the Kings Road in London’s Chelsea. It was the first of it’s kind – a vision of peach mirror glass walls, a tented ceiling featuring an oversized chandelier and purple velvet banquette seats, described - memorably - at the time as a Venetian Bordello!

Terry’s was the only place to go if you wanted sexy, glamorous and somewhat risque heels and is mentioned in Vivienne Westwood’s autobiography. During this time he was commissioned to design the shoes for Tim Curry in the ‘Rocky Horror Show’ movie, and re-introduced the Stiletto for Zandra Rhodes’

Terry’s work also featured heavily in the late great Helmut Newton’s photographs throughout the 70’s and early 80’s.

But Terry closed his shop when fashion shunned glamour, with the advent of almond-toed low-heeled court shoes, trainers and Doc Martens. Uninspired, Terry found himself in a creative desert.

A chance meeting with Bob Carlos Clarke in the early 90’s set him back on track, giving him the opportunity to make ankle breaking high-heeled shoes once again.

On St. Valentine’s day 1990 Terry was introduced to his partner, love and muse Liz Cotton. They live and work closely as a team with Liz responsible for the bespoke hand-printed and adorned fabrics.

Terry also gained a reputation at Central St. Martins for helping new talent by providing the footwear for their graduation shows. One of these aspiring designers was Alexander Mc Queen.

Terry has now completed an incredible new collection, comprising of 3 & 4 inch stiletto heeled sandals and 40s and 70s inspired platforms, some of which feature his latest signature detail, a registered design incorporating a small loop at the top of the heel from which items of jewellery can be suspended.

The collection is already creating a stir. Many of the designs are based on Terry’s signature styles from the 70’s and early 80’s. A timely return for a true genius of fantasy footwear.